Saturday, August 29, 2009

Lutherans Lift Ban On Gay Clergy - by Chuck Colbert

Reaction has been swift and predictable to what happened in Minneapolis last week, with more conservative church members feeling disgruntled and progressives bursting with joy. But one Bay Area Lutheran-raised queer activist is also beaming with pride now that the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, meeting in convention, has officially lifted its 20-year ban against ministers who are in same-gender relationships and has opened the door to blessing committed same-gender relationships.

Previously, only celibate gay and lesbian clergy have been considered for ordination by the denomination.

"I am really proud of them," said Mark Snyder, who lives in downtown San Francisco. "I think it's going to make a huge difference for the youth in the church, especially for the gay youth who are struggling to be accepted." He added, "This will prevent queer youth who are Lutheran from committing suicide. There's no doubt in my mind."

Snyder is a founder and current blogger for, an online activist organization.

Snyder, who also serves as communication coordinator for the local Our Family Coalition, does not consider himself Lutheran any more, let alone a believer. And yet, during a recent telephone interview, Snyder, who was raised in a rural Pennsylvania county bearing his last name, still holds fond memories of his youth.

"I enjoyed going to church as a small child," he said. "And I understand the church is important to the families and community where I was raised."

While growing up, moreover, Snyder's mother and father were active in the Lutheran Church, both having attended previous conventions, each parent always voting pro-gay.

"But this is the first year that we won," Snyder said.

And this time, Snyder's mother Lana Snyder, a voting member of the 2009 Churchwide Assembly, again cast her lot with pro-gay, progressive Lutherans.

"My experience at the convention was marvelous," she said. "It was a very big deal to me to be part of a church that will in all respects offer full membership to gay and lesbian people. Read completed article on

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